Vacation

The Top 10 Destinations to Travel to This Summer, According to Airbnb

Summer Vacation. These two words fill us with the excitement of traveling, relaxing, seeing new places, meeting new people, and more.

Some of us envision a glass of rose by the sea while others of us long for something more foreign and adventurous, explorations in Asia or the mountains somewhere.

The world is an incredibly vast place, and there is no end to the places we could travel to.

If you’re having a hard time choosing where your summer getaway should be in 2019, Airbnb can help with their definitive ranking of this summer’s must-see summer travel destinations.

Airbnb used internal booking data to see which are the hottest and most desirable locations this summer, and the options are quite various. Some focus on nature, like Bragg Creek, Canada while others display the coast, like South Korea’s coastal city of Yeosu.

Two cities of China made their way on the list of top 10 destinations, and it also seems like Puerto Rico has become increasingly popular.

The number one destination was claimed by a commune in northern France right next to the Belgian border and on the Scheldt River – Valenciennes.

Time to Choose!

Those vacation days are almost upon us, so if you haven’t managed to land on a location for you this summer, let Airbnb’s top global destinations help! They are as follows:

  1. Valenciennes, France
  2. Changsha, China
  3. Matsudo, Japan
  4. Marigot, St. Martin
  5. Wuhan, China
  6. Dorado, Puerto Rico
  7. Vieques, Puerto Rico
  8. Río Grande, Puerto Rico
  9. Yeosu, South Korea
  10. Bragg Creek, Canada

Some of you are planning a trip for you and a significant other, and for most popular trips booked by couples, Airbnb has a whole other list.

You’ll be surprised at some of the destinations that trend the most, like Munising in Michigan, but others are headed to Argentina, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. We’ve listed below the top five locations for those booking for two:

  1. Nanterre, France
  2. Nanjing, China
  3. Williams, Arizona
  4. Courseulles-sur-Mer, France
  5. South Uist, Scotland

Summer Vacation. These two words fill us with the excitement of traveling, relaxing, seeing new places, meeting new people, and more.

Some of us...

City Life Cool Stories

Beyond the Streets: Early Brooklyn Graffiti Exhibition

Beyond the Streets, a show exhibiting the work of celebrated artists who spent years illegally working on the streets, first opened in Los Angeles last year.

It’s curator, Roger Gastman, has now opened a second iteration of Beyond the Streets in Brooklyn, NY, where visitors get to view the work of over 150 street artists from around the world.

Gastman, a well-known graffiti historian and “urban anthropologist” is known not just for these shows, but also for co-authoring books on street art and co-producing films like Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop.

Two floors of wall-breaking art

You can check out this latest show, including conceptual artist Jenny Holzer, feminist art collective Guerrilla Girls, Shepard Fairey, and Takashi Murakami, at the new 25 Kent Avenue space on the edge of Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

The art takes up two whole floors of the space and also offers sculptures, works on canvas and, immersive installations alongside a Beastie Boys installation featuring “artifacts and ephemera” from the band’s 4-decade history, a functioning tattoo parlor by Bert Krak & Alexis Ross and a room of puppets made of trash by Paul INSECT and BAST.

Gastman has long had a passion for celebrating art that was first done illegally under the cover of night. In recent years, developers that are changing cities have desired officially sanctioned murals around as a way to “clean up the neighborhood.”

But the artists in these shows are ones who broke the rules, shaped what we know as street art, and, at times, paid the price for pioneering the way, says Gastman. Though many of them now have their own profitable studio practice, their beginnings were anything but.

“You know, this culture—which was started by youths writing their names over and over again for the sake of fame and fun and notoriety—has ballooned into a worldwide cultural phenomenon,” says Gastman in an interview with Artnet.

“So many of the pioneers are still with us today. A lot of them are getting older. But let’s learn from them. Let’s respect them. And let’s preserve the history as much as we can while they’re with us, before it’s too late.”

The exhibition opened up on June 21st and will remain open until the end of August this year. If you’re not able to make it to Beyond the Streets NYC, you can see the artists’ work on the website. They’re worth checking out, even if not in person.

Beyond the Streets, a show exhibiting the work of celebrated artists who spent years illegally working on the streets, first opened in Los Angeles...

Fashion

‘Mushroom Blond’ Hair Is Summer’s Biggest New Trend

The trend of using food to describe our hair colors has grown. Not only do we have toasted coconut, peach cobbler, and cold brew, but the latest trend is having mushroom blond hair. According to Pinterest, this last shade is quickly overtaking the others with searches on the site up by a whopping 308 percent.

Mushrooms may sound a bit bland and boring at first, but from the looks of it, it’s the exact opposite.

Mushrooms colors are soooo interesting!

If you’ve ever studied a mushroom, you’d notice that its colors are multifaceted. You’ll find multiple shades of dark and light brown, even blonde, and the hair color truly reflects those ashy shades you’d find in a mushroom. It’s an in-between color – not quite blonde but not quite brown.

“It’s right in between light brown and dark blond, like an ashier version of brond,” says Stephani Brown, master colorist at New York City’s IGK Salon Soho. As a result, the shade is a great choice for those not wanting a drastically lighter or darker color, yet it gives an edgy, unique look.

“I love the idea of using mushrooms to describe the tone of the hair color,” says Joel Warren, celebrity colorist and founder of the Salon Project. “They have so many different tones of beige and gray that are hard to describe. These tones evolved from the gray and silver trend to a slightly more natural look. The combinations with highlights and low lights gives a beautiful modern look.”

Typically, people want to choose a warmer shade for the summer, but that’s all the reason not to. What better way to stand out than to try something different from the regular? In addition, mushroom blonde is extremely low-maintenance according to Brown.

It’s a more grown-out look which needs a touch up only every three to six months or even up to a full year depending on your hair length. Another reason it’s a great choice for a fun, easy-going hair color this summer!

If you’re considering trying out mushroom blonde for yourself, Brown recommends that you ask your colorist for a subtle light brown or dark blonde ombre that has a variation of both light brown and dark blond pieces.

Be sure to mention the word ashy to keep it from going towards a more traditional blond look. It’s always helpful to bring some photos to give an idea of what exactly you’re going for and to help ensure the product is to your liking.

The trend of using food to describe our hair colors has grown. Not only do we have toasted coconut, peach cobbler, and cold brew, but the latest...

Category - Lifestyle

interesting Lifestyle

Why Do My Canned and Bottled Soda Taste So Different?

Do you ever buy a can of Coke, for example, and wonder why the canned stuff tastes so different to the stuff in the big, plastic bottles?

You aren’t alone. Most of us struggle with this from time to time, and it can be quite annoying when you cannot work out why the taste is so different. In a bid to help you out with that issue, we recommend that you take a look at why this unique difference in taste even exists. Most of the time, you would probably never guess why it exists!

The recipe is, according to the manufacturers and the ingredient lists on the back, identical. So, what is there such a clear and obvious difference in the taste? It’s hard to deny.

One of the main reasons why is that a can of soda often tastes milder and less ‘juicy’ – which some people prefer – due to the polymers in aluminum soaking it up. However, by the same token, if that makes you think that sounds dodgy, it’s believed that the acetaldehyde in the plastic can adjust the flavor of your juice, too.

How should I drink my soda, then?

Glass bottles, then, are where to go if you want something that is as close to the ‘real’ taste as is possible. However, one thing to note is that if you think canned soda tastes quite metallic, you are likely to be more sensitive to metals than the average person.

Therefore, it’s not so much that the soda tastes of metal, but that you’ve noted a heightened sensitivity to the taste of metal as soon as your lips touch the can.

So, keep this in mind the next time you buy a soda. The best way to get something close to the real thing is to buy it from a glass bottle. Then, find the best way to store it. Putting it in the fridge makes it extremely cold, but the coolness can actually limit how much the taste manages to come out from the drink: something near freezing cold will just taste fizzy and cold!

Always be sure to take the time to look at what kind of soda you prefer. We all have our own choice when it comes to the kind of bottle/can we like to drink from. Find yours, and enjoy it!

Do you ever buy a can of Coke, for example, and wonder why the canned stuff tastes so different to the stuff in the big, plastic bottles?

You aren’t alone. Most of us struggle with this from time to time, and it can be quite annoying when you cannot work...

Animals Vacation

How to Do Wildlife Tourism Right

Nearly all travelers love the thrill of getting up close and personal with animals – and the wilder they are, the better. However, what they often don’t consider is how these animals are treated in order to make animal encounters, such as elephant rides and photo ops with tigers, a reality.

The ethics of wildlife experiences is one of the many controversial issues covered in National Geographic magazine’s feature story “Suffering unseen: The dark truth behind wildlife tourism.”

It’s not easy to figure out how to humanely observe animals, but one way you can assess the way a facility treats its animals is by referring to the standards recognized internationally in the “five freedoms” which were inspired by the U.K. in 1965. Here are some tips for how to go about viewing wildlife on your next venture.

Do your research

Research ahead of time to discover what facilities seem to care for their animals ethically. Just because a zoo has a high rating on TripAdvisor doesn’t mean that it’s humane. Read reviews to see if the animals have been well-fed and have access to clean water at all times.

Scan the space

When you’re at the facility, keep your eyes open and look around you to see what the space provides. Do the animals seem comfortable and happy? Are their environments appropriate? Do they have ample space, somewhere to get away from the crowds, and a comfortable resting area?

Watch out for buzzwords like “sanctuary” and “rescue,” especially if a facility is making these sorts of claims while also offering extensive interaction to large volumes of people. Most likely, it’s not true!

Look for red flags

Some things will be hard not to notice, like visibly injured animals or ones that have been cajoled into participating in entertaining activities that could be potentially harmful. Any time an animal that is meant to be wild is giving rides to the tourist is chained, or anything else unnatural to it, it’s just not right. Also, simply observe whether or not their enclosures are kept up and cleaned.

Tread lightly

Do your part in treating the animals with dignity. Large crowds and unnatural noises cause them distress, so be cautious and considerate while you are around them, especially those ones that have experienced some sort of trauma.

Keep it wild

Do your best to encourage and participate in experiences that take place in an animal’s natural environment.

It takes each of us to change the industry of global wildlife tourism. Every one of us that makes a conscious decision to only support facilities that treat their animals ethically helps to transform the industry for the better.

Nearly all travelers love the thrill of getting up close and personal with animals – and the wilder they are, the better. However, what they often don’t consider is how these animals are treated in order to make animal encounters, such as elephant rides...

City Life Science

Women Think Better in Warmer Rooms, Study Suggests

While the study hasn’t been completely conclusive, recent findings have suggested that women think better in warmer rooms while men work better in lower temperatures ones.

Such findings may cause workplaces to think more deeply about their room temperatures and the effect it has on employees’ productivity.

The study occurred in Berlin where 542 students were recruited by researchers to take math, cognition, and verbal tests. Forty percent of the participants were female. First, the tests were taken in a room kept at 61.14 F, but then they were taken in another room at 90.63 F.

Overall, the women performed better on math and verbal tests in the warmer room while the men did better on those tests in the colder room. However, the cognitive tests were unaffected by temperature.

Warmer is better for everyone

“Our findings suggest that gender-mixed workplaces may be able to increase productivity by setting the thermostat higher than current standards,” the authors wrote.

Study co-author Agne Kajackaite, head of the Ethics and Behavioral Economics research group at WZB Berlin Social Science Center, told Newsweek: “There have been many studies showing that women prefer higher indoor temperatures than men. However, nobody looked at the effect of these differences in comfort on performance.

“We show that the battle for the thermostat is not just about comfort. It is much more—in our experiment, women’s cognitive functioning is the best at high temperatures, whereas men’s [is] at low temperatures. Importantly, the positive effect of increased temperatures on women’s performance is much stronger than the negative effect on men.”

Kajackaite continued: “This is just the first study looking at the effects of temperature on cognitive performance by gender. We ran the experiment with a homogeneous sample at a German university. More research looking at different groups—age, educational background, country—and different cognitive tasks is needed.”

Wouter Van Marken Lichtenbelt, a professor of ecological energetics and health at Maastricht University who has also published research on body temperature, told Newsweek that the study was written as if men had an opposite response to that of women, but “there is not one statistically significant effect observed in the data of the men.”

Wei Luo, a Ph.D. student at Maastricht University working with van Marken Lichtenbelt, confessed that the methods used were not wholly sufficient as the order of the different tests was fixed and the participants could have simply been tired. “This makes comparison between tests difficult,” said LuoHe.

The paper also lacked any information concerning participants’ clothes or the length of the tests, said van Marken Lichtenbelt, and this information could have had a significant impact on the results.

However, the results still strongly suggest that offices would be more productive if they slightly increased their room temperatures, agreed Van Marken Lichtenbelt, who also did a study in 2015 that found that exposures to temperatures outside our comfort zone could affect things like diabetes and obesity.

While the study hasn’t been completely conclusive, recent findings have suggested that women think better in warmer rooms while men work better in lower temperatures ones.

Such findings may cause workplaces to think more deeply about their room...

Health Inspiring Stories Lifestyle

3 Ways to Avoid Burnout When You’re Trying To ‘Do It All’

There are certain times in life that call for us to be constantly busy, struggling to balance all the things on our plate all at once. While it cannot be avoided, burnout can! It’s the times that you feel you haven’t a minute to spare to take care of yourself that it’s more important than ever that you do.

Maybe you’re running your kids around while simultaneously juggling everything at home in addition to working a part-time job. The only rest is when your head hits the pillow for those few sweet hours late at night before you’re back at it early the next morning. Your kids and loved ones need you, so what can you do?

Phases like these are what I like to call “soldiering.” Let me be clear, however, that soldiering is not a negative thing. It shows strength and momentum, self-discipline to get done what needs to be done and love for those you do it for. Sometimes, it’s sacrificing what you want for the sake of others, putting yourself second. All this is okay.

Soldiering isn’t a phase that’s meant to last forever. You can only press on with such energy for so long, so know that an end is in sight and that you can carry on until then. And at the end, you can pause to look back at all your hard work has accomplished.

If this is a stage you’ve found yourself in before or are in right now, here are three things to keep in mind to keep from burning out.

  1. Acknowledge that you are soldiering.

Soldiering becomes much more manageable when you acknowledge that’s the state you are in. When you have life on autopilot, you miss out on what goes on day-to-day; you’re not fully present to those around you. But when you’re able to acknowledge to yourself and those around you that you are doing what needs to be done, clarity comes, and you’re able to think through the outcome – the reason you’re in this phase of soldiering to begin with.

  1. Practice self-awareness.

We often avoid self-awareness more than we practice it; sometimes, taking a close look at yourself is just plain scary – we’d rather go on, blissful and ignorant to what is really going on within us. So, self-awareness rarely comes naturally.

But when you habitually make yourself do it, you notice more your behaviours, your reactions, why you feel the way you do. You have insight to see why your environment or your hectic schedule affects you the way it does, both physically and emotionally.

As you look within and understand yourself better, you can make more informed and conscious decisions and impact the quality of your life and relationships positively – both during your soldiering phase as well as when your pace slows.

  1. Take time for self-care.

Yes, it’s appropriate to put others first, to be selfless, but if we don’t take time to care for ourselves, we end up having little to give others. We often feel guilty doing things for ourselves or feel that it shouldn’t be a priority during busy times, but self-care is crucial.

During times like these, you become so energy-depleted and so emotionally drained. There’s no way to continue on if you don’t intentionally replenish and restore these! Take time to grab your favorite meal, read a novel, take a nature walk, or whatever it is that allows your mind and body to rest and recuperate. Just a few moments doing something restorative gives you the energy to tackle each new day afresh!

This season of soldiering won’t last forever, but while it does, utilize these tips to give you strength and help you cope!

There are certain times in life that call for us to be constantly busy, struggling to balance all the things on our plate all at once. While it cannot be avoided, burnout can! It’s the times that you feel you haven’t a minute to spare to take care of...

Fashion Inspiring Stories

High School Junior Makes Dream Prom Dress for Date

When it comes to our High School prom, we all know how big and important it makes us feel. For a lot of kids, it’s one of those nights that they look back on with lifelong affection. Sadly, like most events we go to as teens and kids, our proms are often places where a lot of judgments about people are made.

How expensive your suit/dress is becoming a major part of the argument for a lot of people. Sadly, we live in a society where we rate how ‘cool’ someone is based on how much their parents can afford to spend on a dress.

However, Parker Smith wasn’t one for putting up with such nonsense. This kid, who must go down as one of the most awesome kids in his generation, decided that he wanted to do something special.

Despite having no sewing skills whatsoever, he learned the art and created the dream prom dress for his prom date. She and her family couldn’t afford to buy her the dream gown she wanted, and so Mr. Smith stepped up to the plate – and then some.

His partner for the evening, Addi Rust, couldn’t afford the dream gown that she wanted. So when she asked Parker to make the dress for her – mostly as a joke – he decided to set about doing so. Judging by the photos, he has done an absolutely amazing job on the sewing job.

He would make parts of the dress more than once in a bid to perfect the style and shape of the design. Of course, Mr. Smith didn’t do this all on his own: like any smart boy, he got help from his beloved grandmother to help him make sure it was just right!

A prom dream come true

A beautiful blue ball gown came into being, then, and Addi was able to head off to prom looking absolutely fantastic – while being at prom date with one of the best up-and-coming young sewers in the community, from the looks of things!

He kept adding more and more to it, eventually creating an endearing and creative dress that perfectly achieved the aim: making Addi very happy on her big evening. Addi knew what it was going to look like throughout the process, as Parker kept her up-to-date on the entire process.

She even praised him on social media for his amazing attention to detail, and for creating a wonderful prom dress that, clearly, made her very happy indeed. Remember girls, if you’re going to get a prom date, make sure it’s a guy who has the skills and the self-belief to create an outfit for you!

Playing right up to his role as Prince Charing, he even played the role of slipping on a white heel onto her fool – a proper Cinderella story that we can all enjoy!

When it comes to our High School prom, we all know how big and important it makes us feel. For a lot of kids, it’s one of those nights that they look back on with lifelong affection. Sadly, like most events we go to as teens and kids, our proms are often...

City Life Earth

Could We Put AC Units To Better Environmental Use?

When you feel the heat of the sun beating down on you and your home, the last thing you want to do is just sit and sweat. Rather than perspire until we expire, most of us do what you would be expected: you put on the AC unit.

But, rising energy costs and rising worries about the impact of such hardware on the environment leaves us with both financial and moral considerations. However, despite being vilified by some, air conditions could play a more active, meaningful role in turning around atmospheric carbon dioxide: some believe we could use it as a source of fuel.

This problem has been one that is spoken about on a regular basis. Excess carbon dioxide in the air is not a good thing. It can be used for numerous things, such as for pumping into a greenhouse to feed plants or feed the growth of trees. However, we could also find other uses for it – including the potential for turning atmospheric carbon dioxide into a fuel.

The ideas been going around for some time and could be delivered in the near future. Analytical scientists have started to argue that using AC units that can pull in the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turn it into fuel could be a goer. These would be hugely useful for solving excess carbon dioxide in the air, and for dealing with rising energy bills.

This would be a much more effective alternative to using things like fossil fuels to help power our lifestyles. For many, it would be the perfect antidote to both stabilizing the cost of living and in making a more conscious effort to help the environment.

Is this going to be possible?

Sadly, for now, it’s more theory than a possibility. It’s still something that is being worked on. Thankfully, major names such a Climeworks, Siemens AG and various other firms, such as Green Energy, are getting involved in correcting this issue.

More resources are going into the creation of this kind of green tech, which could go a long way to making sure we have more of an opportunity to stop such needles wastage moving forward.

According to researchers on the project, the aim would be to create a system that is going to separately capture the CO2 from the air and then isolate the hydrogen from the water. This would then be used to produce the fuels needed.

The challenge, then, is creating a system that can do all of this at once. While it’s apparently not difficult to do in theory, the practice is seemingly a fair bit tougher.

It’ll be interesting, then, to see what comes next. If these were able to be created, then we could be producing enough fuel to help run many cities, according to research in the Nature Communications journal.

With the need for more renewable forms of fuel that can also cut down on our production of carbon, this could be a fantastic solution to turn the tide in the battle for a healthier planet.

When you feel the heat of the sun beating down on you and your home, the last thing you want to do is just sit and sweat. Rather than perspire until we expire, most of us do what you would be expected: you put on the AC unit.

But, rising energy costs and...

Health Lifestyle

Study Suggests Diet Soda Can Cause Weight Gain

A recent study published in the journal Pediatric Obesity, presents new evidence which suggests that children who drink diet soda are consuming 200 extra calories each day.  The study suggests that opting for the low-calorie option in an attempt to lose weight can actually cause weight gain.

The scientists compared teens who consumed diet soda to those that drank water.    A surprising finding was that those drinking diet soda were still receiving the same total dietary intake of calories as those drinking the regular sugary version.

Water is the best choice

The study, which took place at the George Washington University, was headed by Dr. Allison Sylvetsky.  The findings recommend water as the best option and confirms that the results of the study challenge the commonly accepted opinion that low-calorie or diet drinks were useful in weight management.

Dr. Syletsky’s team have conducted may studies on drinks over the years, and have found that as well as low-calorie sweeteners in drinks, children and young adults also eat these sweeteners in other food and drinks.  In fact, during the period between 1999 and 2012 their consumption in this age group leapt by a massive 200%.

Despite the growing popularity of low-calorie sweeteners, there is still no concrete knowledge as to how this affects a child’s calorie intake, and there is no guarantee that the sweeteners contribute to weight loss.

Diet drinks don’t reduce calorie intake

Between 2011 and 2016 Dr. Sylvetsky and her team examined the dietary records of 7,026 children and teens who had been enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.  In the survey, the participants self-reported everything they ate and dank within a 24-hour period.

The research was focused on those who were drinking sodas – either with low-calorie sweeteners or regular sugar.  The team compared those drinking the soda with water drinkers and discovered that those having diet drinks were consuming extra calories and they were taking in more sugar from other types of food and drink.

Accounting for body weight, the researchers compared the results for soda drinkers and water drinkers and found that:

  • Those children who consumed diet sodas increased their daily intake by 196 additional calories.
  • Drinking regular soda (sugar-based) led to an intake of an extra 312 calories each day.
  • Drinking both the diet and regular versions of drinks resulted in an additional 450 calories being consumed each day.

Weight gain can kill

The findings of Dr. Sylvetsky and her team are important because of the health effects of weight gain.

At present, the figures for American children state that 1 in 3 is overweight or diagnosed as obese.  Weight gain is a key factor for increased risk of type II diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and other health issues.

The data suggests that there is a link between drinking low-calorie drinks and consuming more calories and sugar throughout the day.  They are skeptical about claims that diet drinks help in weight loss.

Experts continue to give advice to parents with organizations like The American Heart Association advising against long term consumption of these low-calorie drinks.  Dr. Sylvestky confirms that this is good advice.  Children, teens, and adults drink should drink more water and add whole grains, fruit and vegetables to their diet.

A good alternative to diet sodas, she suggests, is to add some 100% fruit juice to some sparkling water.

A recent study published in the journal Pediatric Obesity, presents new evidence which suggests that children who drink diet soda are consuming 200 extra calories each day.  The study suggests that opting for the low-calorie option in an attempt to lose...

Entertainment Lifestyle

Violent ‘Fortnite’ Made Me the World’s Meanest Mom and I’m Fine with It

If you know anything about the recent trending game “Fortnite Battle Royale,” you’d probably say I’m the meanest mom in the world for banning it in my house.

It’s amazing how popular the game has become. Over 200 million are registered as users, making it even more popular than porn. Some might say, “Wouldn’t you rather your son be playing a video game than watching porn?” But I think I’d prefer to go with neither!

I know all the pros of the game and have wrestled with them, too. It’s social; it’s a great way for sons to bond with dads; its only cartoon violence – etc.

But I have my reasons for not allowing my kid to play it, and here are seven of them.

Reasons Are:

The alarming weapons roster. I know the violence is bloodless, but those weapons are pretty real and pretty scary. From shotguns to semi-automatic sniper rifles to pistols and more, it certainly makes guns seem more like toys rather than a dangerous weapon – a fact that we are trying to instill in our son. Letting him play around with one like this certainly sends a confusing message.

It’s cartoon violence. And along those lines, I’d almost rather my kid being seeing the horrific results of violence they’ve inflicted rather than it seeming inconsequential and bloodless. If they can’t handle blood, guts, victims screaming, and heartbroken families, then they’re not ready to be playing around with this stuff either.

The do-or-die premise. If you aren’t already familiar with the game, one hundred wannabe-killers are dropped on an island, and the point is to be the last man standing. Research is still being done on how violent entertainment impacts kids, and the findings have been conflicting, but I seriously doubt letting your child regularly identify with a murdering machine is beneficial.

It’s costing me money. I remember the good old days when we’d cut grass and clean to earn pennies for the bike we were saving up to purchase. Now, money is being wasted on “Fortnite” extras. Epic Games has made over $2.4 billion from “Fortnite” — an otherwise free game — in 2018, according to Nielsen’s SuperData! Money from my wallet sure isn’t going towards this!

It’s interfering with school.  Twenty-seven percent of teens surveyed by Common Sense Media in 2018 reported playing “Fortnite” in class. It’s not helping them get somewhere in life, that’s for sure.

It’s killing IRL playdates. My son used to invite friends over to play outside or to build a fort – or even to play Wii. Now, playdates consist of hanging out online playing “Fortnite.” If that were occasional, it wouldn’t be so bad, but it’s shouldn’t replace in-person interaction.

It’s like kid crack. Much research has concluded that video games flood our brains with dopamine, a happy chemical that floods in when you do something like winning a poker game, eat chocolate, or shoot heroin. Games like “Fortnite” are intentionally designed to do this, delivering small rewards that cause your brain pleasure and make it come back for more – again and again, and again.

Honestly, there are times I feel badly for my son, especially when everyone else is doing it. All his friends talk about it just about 24/7, so am I his worst enemy? There’s still a lot I allow, like FIFA 19. How mean of a mom am I, really? I decided to ask a leading national expert in video game research.

“Older adults tend to freak out about any youth trend. The data do not support that there’s any epidemic of game addiction,” says Chris Ferguson, a psychology professor at Stetson University in DeLand, Fla. “You’re thinking about this and looking for data. That certainly doesn’t make you the worst mom ever. I’m sure your son doesn’t really think so either!”

Let’s hope he’s thanking me when he grows up!

If you know anything about the recent trending game “Fortnite Battle Royale,” you’d probably say I’m the meanest mom in the world for banning it in my house.

It’s amazing how popular the game has become. Over 200 million are registered as users...

Cool Stories Lifestyle

Unfold Your Getaway: Canoe for City Dwellers Packs Down to a Suitcase

For those who live in a big city, canoes are just things you associate with getaways or, at the very least, an expensive rental at a nearby body of water. People who live in suburbia barely have room to store them, much less those of us who live in apartment buildings.

Imagine trying to lug a massive canoe up your narrow staircase or trying to fit it in your overhead storage space – not possible!

But Ghent-based designer Otto Van De Steene found the solution one day while he was fiddling around with an origami canoe. It made him think: could this be replicated in a real-life canoe? Steene has proved that it can with the ‘ONAK,’ a portable canoe that folds down to the size of a suitcase.

Steene had seen numerous other models that just didn’t measure up at outdoor recreation stores. “You have the canoes that have really good performance on the water – they’re fast, but they’re quite heavy and take an hour to assemble. Nothing to do in an evening after work.”

Trial and Error

One that was recently released was the Oru folding kayak which had the potential to be successful, but the plastic construction didn’t lend itself to durability. Steene tried making his out of a custom-made polypropylene for his own design, as it’s lighter and stiffer, improving the boat’s performance.

With its honeycomb-core composite material, it’s ten times as strong as standard polypropylene, making it highly durable and fully recyclable.“By making hundreds of paper models and fifteen real prototypes, we also refined the design of our patent pending hull.

This was a huge challenge due to the limitations of origami. We opted for a narrow and fast canoe design that keeps its momentum very well, while still being delightfully easy and stable to maneuver for beginners.

”The process of assembling or packing up the portable canoe takes about ten minutes. The size is a bit bigger than the Oru – 47”x15.7”x10” as a roller case, expanding to 183” long by 33.5” wide –, but the fact that it’s on wheels makes it more conducive to transporting from place to place.

It can also carry about 440 pounds with enough room for two adults, a child, and gear.

The Okak has met its goal after just a couple days left on its Kickstarter campaign, but if you back the project in time, you can still get a pretty good price. Once it hits the market, it will sell for about $1450 with two paddles.

For those who live in a big city, canoes are just things you associate with getaways or, at the very least, an expensive rental at a nearby body of water. People who live in suburbia barely have room to store them, much less those of us who live in apartment...

Fashion Lifestyle Tech News

UK Using Smart Billboards to Secretly Ad-target Shoppers

Many shopping centers in the UK have adopted a new kind of ad technique that involves surveillance cameras in shopping center billboards. These cameras are used to spy on you in order to show you the “correct” advertisement. The new technology has the ability to identify your age, gender, and even mood.

The smart boards detect how long certain customers look at advertisements and then change what they display depending on who is walking past.

So far, The Sunday Times has happened upon 50 of these screens in the UK; several of them can be found at Westfield shopping center in Shepherd’s Bush, London.

Apparently, companies utilizing this equipment don’t legally need to inform their shoppers that they are being filmed because the system complies with the UK’s data protection laws. Since no individually identifying information is being collected or stored, no laws are being broken.

First Company to Try This

One of the first companies to try this system out is Ocean Outdoor. The LookOut system is found in multiple tracking billboards throughout the UK.

Tim Bleakley, the company’s chief executive, told The Sunday Times: “We pioneered a facial detection technology which identifies the characteristics of the face to allow you to talk to advertisers about mood, gender, emotion and those kinds of things. We can measure the level of happiness or sadness. We can measure the dwell time.”

Bleakley told of how satisfied the supermarket executives of Waitrose were when they sprayed fake snow into the store and saw how evidently ‘customer happiness levels’ rose.

The cameras installed into the billboards spend every hour analyzing the shoppers to see what kind of people shopped and when they shopped. At times, shoppers are even inserted into adverts, a feature called ‘interactive advertising.’ One promotional video from Ocean Outdoor implied that the technology can determine how many ‘affluent’ people are in the area.

One of the billboards at Canary Wharf stated that 49 percent of people walking past that day were “affluent” and earned “over £100,000 ($129,000).”

The technology of Ocean Outdoor can be used on roadside billboards to figure the price of passing cars and advertise expensive things to those it thinks have lots of money.

Quividi is a French firm that also sells the facial detection technology and says that it collects and processes images of people in milliseconds but then deletes them forever once their basic profile information has been taken. Determining someone’s gender can be done with 90 percent accuracy within a five-year age bracket.

Many shopping centers in the UK have adopted a new kind of ad technique that involves surveillance cameras in shopping center billboards. These cameras are used to spy on you in order to show you the “correct” advertisement. The new technology has the...

Humans Are Awesome Inspiring Stories Lifestyle

How Tinder Had A Hand in The New Diverse Couple Emoji Selection

Emojis have become crucial in the way we communicate. More and more, these pictographs are used to depict what we’re feeling, what we’re saying, and even who we are. This being the case, it’s of utmost importance that emojis are relevant and inclusive.

Tinder has been a force behind the creation of new interracial couples emojis. They formed a petition with over 50,000 supporters which pushed Unicode to make these emojis a reality this year.

In the Name of Love

Emojis representing people of color and people with disabilities were first released to the public in 2015. In later years, Unicode responded to the call for emojis representing non-heterosexual couples.

It was interesting that this hadn’t been done before, considering how excellent a form of communication and what a statement emojis had come to be.

Making the First Move

Tinder conducted a study that connected online dating with the increase of interracial couples and saw the necessity for improved visibility for its users. They first attempted to make a change in February 2018 when they kicked off the #represent campaign, which successfully petitioned the Unicode Consortium to be more inclusive.

 Tinder’s CMO, Jenny Campbell made a statement, “Tinder advocates for the freedom of people to live how they want to live and love who they want to love.” People from all over the world joined Tinder in their petition, resulting in over 50,000 signatures in order to have all loves represented.

Coupling Celebrated

We’ve had a small taste of what to expect once all 230 emojis are released for public use. They display a wide range of skin tone and gender. The release showed all sorts of couples smiling and holding hands, of all sorts of gender and color combinations. The new emojis are full of happy diversity.

Emojis have become crucial in the way we communicate. More and more, these pictographs are used to depict what we’re feeling, what we’re saying, and even who we are. This being the case, it’s of utmost importance that emojis are relevant and...

Celebs Cool Stories Humans Are Awesome Lifestyle

Mark Zuckerberg Innovates New Sleeping Aid for Mothers

While Mark Zuckerberg might not be seen as the savior of humanity as he once was, the Facebook guru is still a hugely respected name in innovation. Known for Facebook primarily, he’s enjoyed a massive and stellar rise to the very top of the tech industry.

However, clearly still burning bright with ideas and innovations, Zuckerberg has been working on a very cool, very considerate product – a sleeping aid for mothers.

With two young kids at home, the Facebook supremo is someone who understands the value of caring for his kids. So, after seeing how exhausted everyone was at home, he decided to act. To do that, he came up with the aptly named Sleep Box. He gave it to his wife, Priscilla Chan, who immediately found it useful to get her to sleep at night.

Speaking about the invention, Zuckerberg was clear about why he made it:

“Being a mom is hard, and since we’ve had kids Priscilla has had a hard time sleeping through the night,”“She’ll wake up and check the time on her phone to see if the kids might wake up soon, but then knowing the time stresses her out and she can’t fall back asleep.”

It’s a confusing process, but it is part of being a parent. Therefore, this new invention might go some way to overcoming this problem and helping Chan get to sleep a whole lot easier than she is at the moment.

This simple but effective little tool works by putting on a dim light from 6-7AM. It might seem simple, but it does a lot for improving quality of sleep for the duo.

Smart but Simple

The light is good enough that it will wake one of us to get the kids without it being too early. However, it’s also dull enough that, if they wish to keep on sleeping, the light is not going to wake them up too early.

It’s a simple but smart little invention and one that a lot of parents would like having around the house. Now, waking up in the middle of the night is not going to feel like such a stressful experience.

Indeed, Zuckerberg himself noted that even he was impressed at just how well the product had done at improving sleeping quality, saying: “As an engineer, building a device to help my partner sleep better is one of the best ways I can think of to express my love and gratitude,

“A bunch of my friends have told me they’d want something like this, so I’m putting this out there in case another entrepreneur wants to run with this and build sleep boxes for more people!”

What a cool little product. Be sure to keep an eye out for this, as it is very much likely to be made by someone else who can see the potential in this small but simple little box. Who knew the genius behind Facebook would also be the genius behind saving mothers from restless nights!?

While Mark Zuckerberg might not be seen as the savior of humanity as he once was, the Facebook guru is still a hugely respected name in innovation. Known for Facebook primarily, he’s enjoyed a massive and stellar rise to the very top of the tech...